[tex-live] papersizes: in the document or as system-wide setting? (was: A few glitches in tlnet/tldev)

Frank Küster frank at kuesterei.ch
Sun Jun 15 20:29:42 CEST 2008

"George N. White III" <gnwiii at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Jun 14, 2008 at 11:31 PM, Reinhard Kotucha
> <reinhard.kotucha at web.de> wrote:
>> [...]
>> Yes, I don't know whether xetex supports a sytem-wide configuration
>> for paper size.  But I have no objections if it doesn't.  The only
>> reason for adding the letter/a4 switch to the installer was that so
>> many people asked for it.  My personal opinion is that papersize
>> declarations should be done in tex documents, otherwise they can't be
>> shared with people who have different default settings.
> I'd tend to agree, if we were only talking about people writing
> reports/papers.
> Some people use tex only because it is required by the build system
> for some source package.  What they really want is to get documents
> that honor the global papersize setting of the system, 

There seems to be an additional problem with papersizes. Debian users
have frequently complained that on their system TeX documents always
come out as a4, even though they want letter. Of course we told them to
take care on the macro level that the typeset size and the specified
physical papersize match, but not everybody does that.

And I must admit that when I just write a short test document, I often
leave out geometry or hyperref, and when I print this test document, I'm
just lucky that a4 is the default and is in the printer - otherwise I
would have to walk to the printer and tell it "Yes I really do want this
letter document to be printed on a4".

So we decided to change the default for pdfTeX, dvips and dvipdfm with
the Debian system papersize (as specified by libpaper). The part of this
taks which is relevant for TeXLive development is that I first need to
make texconfig aware of all papersizes we support, and do that in the
relevant syntax for all three programs (I hope dvipdfmx uses the dvipdfm
configuration?). I'll try to write that in a way that can be
incorporated in TeXLive proper. (The other part is doing the thing right
with respect to Debian configuration file handling, which is tricky in
this case).

> There was a proposal to support a default papersize based on the
> minimum width/height of a4/letter.  

That wouldn't help people with a printer that refuses to print documents
in a papersize that doesn't match the paper it has available, without
manual intervention.

Regards, Frank
Frank Küster
Debian Developer (teTeX/TeXLive)

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